Sunday, April 27, 2014

Book Thirty-Six



Book Thirty-Six
January 2006 - December 2007
Hardcover Sketchbook
Kept while in Roberts Creek and Vancouver
6" x 8.25" 168 pages. 

L. Cornelissen & Son Sketchbook 

I was once given some very good advice by an Irish friend. If I was going to visit London, I needed to see two important places. The British Museum, and just down the street from there, L. Cornelissen & Son artist supply shop, or, as it still says on the sign, "Artists' Colourmen." 

The shop is a marvel. Established in 1855 it opened its doors just one year before Wiliam Henry Perkin discovered the first synthetic dye. In the shop I purchased a small green sketchbook. To those who plot their life by and in books, this was about five years before Moleskien began to produce their wonderful but now ubiquitous sketchbooks. The Cornelissen book was an elegant, green colour that matched the paint on the walls of the store. Kind of a verdant, billiard-table shade. The name "L. Cornelissen & Son" was stamped in gold on the cover and I considered it a few steps above the spiral notebook I was carrying with me. The colour seemed to be a marker of something beyond the longevity of small bespoke colourmen in the English capital. A few years later when I watched an architect pull a similar green sketchbook from his satchel I knew exactly where he got it. We connected over the book and it occurred to me that there are some things which communicate in unexpected ways.

This is that book. I saved it for several years before I was brave enough to use it. 

The books used to be make by Cornelissen themselves. They had excellent, heavy, white paper in them, it was like a pot of heavy cream: rich and velvety. Not to be too opinionated, but the drawing paper of the Moleskiens is so thin you could spit through it, and if, on the other hand, you opt for the books with heavier paper, you don't really get enough pages in the book. The paper is OK, I guess, but it doesn't induce euphoria the way the Cornelissen book does. I decided to stock up on the Cornelissen books the next time I passed through London. And, just when I had sufficient capital to do so, I learned that Cornelissen no longer made the books themselves. 

They are still the same green colour. It's nice. But books are now made by Seawhite of Brighton. They are suppliers to art galleries (the National Portrait Gallery is a client) and they still have very good paper in them. Still, learning that the Cornelissen books had changed was a bit like getting the news that your parents had sold the family home and moved into an apartment. The change is inevitable and for reasons you can never clearly define, just a little bit sad.

More rants on specific sketchbooks:
Book Seventeen Ampad
Book Nineteen Claire Fontaine

Here is an index of books

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ruth Phillips


Ruth Phillips, cellist, writer. Taken March 18, 2013.

It was early spring 2008, a year after Lucien Chauvet’s death. Along the length of the house now ran four wooden boxes in which grew the beginnings of four varieties of tomato. There were aubergines. There were salad leaves, chard and rocket, turnips and beets. A Sicilian gourd reached upward with its first rampant tendrils. Potatoes were planned, naturally. Every square of growth was punctuated with an organic insect repellent or bee attractor such as rosemary or marigold, and the vegetables were arranged in happy families. Carrots that loved tomatoes, tomatoes that loved basil, radishes that loved mustard and redwort pigweed. Julian tapped a packet and three seeds plopped into his hand. He took a pencil and created an indent for them in a pot the size of an egg cup. He let the seeds drop. He placed earth on top of them, sprinkled fine sand over them, and watered them from a great height. Next, he transplanted a row of lettuces, gathering earth around the seedlings as lovingly as if he were tucking a child in to a bed. Then, looking as smitten with the yellow blooms as he ever had been with me, he picked four Lady Banks roses from the bush and walked them toward the studio.